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Benzene found in acne care products

Following the Valisure report that found the chemical benzene in acne products containing benzoyl peroxide South West Dermatology are providing information to our past, present and future patients of topical Benzoyl peroxide.

Benzoyl peroxide is a common acne-fighting ingredient available by prescription and over the counter, which has the potential to break down into benzene. In March 2024, a petition was filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This petition expresses concerns that benzene, a cancer-causing substance, may be found in acne products containing benzoyl peroxide when these products are exposed to higher temperatures.

No petition has currently been raised in the UK or EU as of March 2024, but this position may change.

Most consumers do not store personal care products in the conditions in which Valisure tested the products. More information is needed to know if/how benzoyl peroxide may degrade into benzene at room temperature. Benzoyl peroxide has been a key acne-fighting ingredient used for many years. While there are no direct alternatives to benzoyl peroxide, your dermatologist can help you find other options if you are uncomfortable using benzoyl peroxide in your acne regimen as we learn more.

Other over the counter or prescription only treatment options include topical adapalene, salicylic acid, or azelaic acid.

Benzene found in Acne care products

Frequently asked questions

What is benzene — and what makes it a human carcinogen?

Benzene is a colourless, highly flammable chemical that is used widely to make products, including drugs, detergents, dyes, plastics and lubricants. It is also found naturally in car fuel and cigarette smoke. Benzene can cause cells not to work correctly, and the seriousness depends on the amount, route, and length of time of exposure, as well as the age and pre-existing medical condition of the exposed person.

Benzoyl peroxide is a common active ingredient in acne-fighting personal care products and some prescription items. Benzene is not intended to be included in these products. In some personal care products contaminated with benzene, benzene is introduced during manufacturing. In the case of products with benzoyl peroxide as an active ingredient, the benzoyl peroxide can break down, which introduces benzene into the product.

What products were found to contain benzene?

Valisure’s research was performed on dozens of over-the counter benzoyl peroxide products. However, little information is provided about which products had benzene detected at baseline (and how much).

How can patients continue treating their acne while avoiding this contaminant?

There are many ingredients that help fight and prevent acne. If your current treatment plan includes benzoyl peroxide and you would like to avoid this ingredient, consult your Dermatologist or GP for alternate options.

How should I care for my skin if I have acne?

We recommend the following to care for your skin during acne treatment:

  • Keep your skin clean. Gently wash your face up to twice daily and after sweating. Choose a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser. Apply it with your fingertips, as scrubbing with washcloths, sponges, and other tools can irritate your skin.
  • Choose the right skin care. Use gentle skin care products and ones that say “alcohol-free” on the label. Avoid products that can irritate your skin, including astringents, toners, and exfoliants. These products can dry your skin and make acne appear worse.
  • Shampoo regularly. The oil from your hair can cause acne on your forehead. If you have oily hair, shampoo more often than you do now and keep your hair away from your face.
  • Keep your hands off. Touching your face throughout the day can cause acne to flare. While it can be tempting to pick, pop, or squeeze your acne, doing so will make the acne take longer to clear and increase your risk for scarring and dark spots called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
  • Stay out of the sun and tanning beds. Along with increasing your risk for skin cancer, tanning damages your skin and can worsen acne. Some acne medications can also make your skin very sensitive to damaging ultraviolet rays from the sun and tanning beds.
  • Protect your skin by avoiding tanning — indoors and out — and by seeking shade, wearing sun-protective clothing, and applying a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all skin not covered by clothing when outdoors. Look for a sunscreen that says “non-comedogenic” or “won’t clog pores.” For more effective protection, select clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (or UPF) number on the label.

What else should I consider?

If you are concerned about ingredients in your acne skin care and medications, talk to a registered Consultant Dermatologist to develop an acne treatment plan that works for you.

Call Sarah on 01392 350059 if you have any concerns or would like to see Consultant Dermatologist Dr. Anthony Downs or Dr. Chris Bower to discuss further.

Dr Tony Downs is a member of the British Association of Dermatologists, European Academy of Dermatology (EADV) and the American Academy of Dermatology and a consultant Dermatologist on the UK specialist register.

Dr Chris Bower is a member of the British Association of Dermatologists, the European Academy of Dermatology (EADV) and a consultant Dermatologist on the UK specialist register

Ilumetri (tildrakizumab) is a prescription medicine used to treat moderate to severe plaque psoriasis in adults. It is a biologic medicine that works by blocking a protein called interleukin-23 (IL-23). IL-23 is involved in the inflammation that causes psoriasis. Ilumetri is given as a subcutaneous injection (under the skin) once every 12 weeks. It is important to follow your doctor's instructions carefully when using Ilumetri.

How does Ilumetri work?

Ilumetri works by blocking IL-23, a protein that is involved in the inflammation that causes psoriasis. When IL-23 is blocked, it helps to reduce the inflammation and redness of the skin that is caused by psoriasis.

How is Ilumetri taken?

Ilumetri is given as a subcutaneous injection (under the skin) once every 12 weeks. It is important to follow your doctor's instructions carefully when using Ilumetri.

What are the side effects of Ilumetri?

Ilumetri can cause some side effects, including:

  • Injection site reactions
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Sinus infections
  • Headache
  • Back pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Rash
  • Dry skin
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Hives

If you experience any of these side effects, tell your doctor right away.

Is Ilumetri safe for me?

Ilumetri is not safe for everyone. You should not use Ilumetri if you have any of the following:

  • An allergy to tildrakizumab
  • A severe infection
  • A weakened immune system

If you are not sure if Ilumetri is safe for you, talk to Dr. Anthony Downs, Consultant Dermatologist..

What are the risks of using Ilumetri?

Side-effects are rare especially compared to other types of biologics.

If you are concerned about the risks of using Ilumetri, talk to Dr. Anthony Downs, Consultant Dermatologist.

Important Safety Information

Ilumetri (tildrakizumab) is a prescription medicine used to treat moderate to severe plaque psoriasis in adults. It is a biologic medicine that works by blocking a protein called interleukin-23 (IL-23). IL-23 is involved in the inflammation that causes psoriasis.

Ilumetri is given as a subcutaneous injection (under the skin) once every 12 weeks. It is important to follow your doctor's instructions carefully when using Ilumetri.

What should I do if I have questions about Ilumetri?

If you are considering using Taltz to treat psoriasis get in touch with us today

Ilumetri injection
MedicationHow it worksHow it is givenSpeed of actionUnsuitable patientsCommon side-effectsPre-treatment testsCost per month after loading doses*
Ilumetri®IL-23 inhibitor100 or 200mg with self-injector. Second loading dose after 4 weeks then every 12 weeksWithin 28 weeksPregnancy or breast feeding, active TB, avoid live vaccinesnoneBlood tests and chest Xray£720
Ilumetri Tildrakizumab information sheet download South West Dermatology

*Approximate 2023 prices. Includes cold chain home delivery. Excludes initial and expected on-going face-to face or video consultation fees and any blood tests or additional investigations required. Please note routine monitoring blood tests are not required for this medication.

If you feel this is the type of medication for you, then book in a consultation with Dr Anthony Downs. For patients outside the south west area Dr Downs is able to offer remote video consultations.

Please note your private medical insurance may not cover costs of medication or ongoing consultations for chronic medical conditions.

Dr. Anthony Downs has over 20 years experience in prescribing biologics for patients with moderate to severe psoriasis. He has contributed to global clinical trials that have led to these medicines being licenced and continues to be active in clinical research in this field of medicine.

Call Sarah on 01392 350059 to book a biologic psoriasis consultation with our Consultant Dermatologist Dr. Anthony Downs. For further information call us or use our online form.

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes the rapid buildup of skin cells. This can lead to patches of thick, red, scaly skin called plaques. Psoriasis can affect any part of the body, but it is most common on the scalp, elbows, knees, and back.

There are many different treatments for psoriasis, including topical creams, light therapy, and oral medications. For some people, these treatments are not effective enough or they cause unwanted side effects. In these cases, biologics may be a good option.

Biologics are a type of medication that works by targeting the immune system. They are typically used to treat moderate to severe psoriasis. Biologics can be very effective in clearing up psoriasis, and they often have fewer side effects than other treatments.

Here are five reasons to consider switching to biologics for psoriasis:

  1. They are more effective than other treatments. Biologics have been shown to be more effective than other treatments for psoriasis, including topical creams, light therapy, and oral medications. In clinical trials, biologics have been shown to clear up psoriasis in up to 80% of patients.
  2. They have fewer side effects. Biologics tend to have fewer side effects than other treatments for psoriasis. Common side effects of biologics include injection site reactions, infections, and an increased risk of certain types of cancer. However, these side effects are usually mild and go away on their own.
  3. They are more convenient. Biologics are typically given as injections once or twice a month. This is more convenient than other treatments for psoriasis, such as topical creams, which need to be applied daily.
  4. They are more affordable. The cost of biologics can be high, but there are many programs available to help patients pay for them.
  5. They can improve your quality of life. Psoriasis can have a significant impact on your quality of life. It can cause pain, itching, and embarrassment. Biologics can help to improve your quality of life by clearing up your psoriasis and reducing your symptoms.

If you are considering switching to biological treatment for psoriasis, talk to Dr. Anthony Downs. Dr. Downs can help you decide if biologics are right for you and make the best decision for your individual needs.

Here are some additional things to consider when deciding whether or not to switch to biologics for psoriasis:

  • Your medical history
  • Your current treatment plan
  • Your insurance coverage
  • Your budget

If you have any questions or concerns about biologics, get in touch with us today. 

If you feel this is the type of medication for you, then book in a consultation with Dr Anthony Downs. For patients outside the south west area Dr Downs is able to offer remote video consultations

Dr. Anthony Downs has over 20 years experience in prescribing biologics for patients with moderate to severe psoriasis. He has contributed to global clinical trials that have led to these medicines being licenced and continues to be active in clinical research in this field of medicine.

Call Sarah today on 01392 350059 to book a psoriasis consultation with our Consultant Dermatologist Anthony Downs. For further information call us or use our online form.

Dr Bower and Dr Downs both attended the Spring EADV meeting in Seville last week. This popular pan-European conference provides a platform to view current Dermatology clinical practice and Dermatology scientific research from different countries, including the UK.

Post-Brexit, it is important that UK Dermatologists increase their involvement in European institutes such as the European Academy of Dermatology in order to continue to influence the development and direction of this organisation.

EADV Conference 2023 in Seville presentation

This annual meeting offers important continuous professional development for our skin experts and ensures our Consultant Dermatologist stay up to date and also share best practice, innovation, embrace evolving technology and keep abreast of medical industry developments.

Attendance helps to re-assure that South West Dermatology's clinical practice is consistent with offering the very best available patient care.

The Spring European Academy of DermatoVenereology (EADV) 2022 was held in Ljubljana, Slovenia 12th to 14th May this year face to face, after two years of virtual conferences.

Dr Tony Downs & Dr Chris Bower at EADV Sprint Conference 2022

Dr Downs and Dr Bower were able to attend alongside a small group of other British Dermatologists in this important medical industry event.

European Academy of DermatoVenereology draws mostly from Europe and is the key driver of Dermatology education and research for European Dermatologists.

There were a variety of dermatology lectures and tutorials to attend and Dr Downs found the lasers, skin surgery and skin cancer recognition sessions particularly useful.

These events offer important continuous professional development for our skin experts and help Consultant Dermatologist to stay on top of innovation, evolving technology and medical industry developments.

Attendance helps to re-assure that South West Dermatology's clinical practice is consistent with the very best available patient care and is very often the most useful aspect of attending these meetings.

Dr Chris Bower, chair of Derma Exchange presenting at the Dermatology care meeting in Bristol

Dr. Anthony Downs & Dr. Christopher Bower recently attended a face to face national Dermatology meeting in Bristol. The DermaExchange event was sponsored by Almirall and chaired by Consultant Dermatologist Dr. Christopher Bower.

This event was the first time dermatologist and healthcare professionals have been able to meet as a professional body for almost two years.

The event included lectures on clinical updates and advances in dermatology care, alongside informative lectures and discussions on mental health and the well being of both the doctor and patient.

'How to work smarter and not harder', given the overwhelming demand for our services, was a talk that was particularly well received by the audience.

Both Dr. Anthony Downs & Dr. Christopher Bower came away with some useful tips that should help with some of our more challenging patients.

We do hope the pandemic will not cut these important industry meetings that are essential for clinical professional development.

Since 2007 Dr. Anthony Downs and Dr. Christopher Bower have co-hosted delivered a national intense training course to training grade Dermatologists in order to help them pass the SCE exam.

After medical school it takes at least 8 years to become a Consultant Dermatologist. Often longer.

The SCE is a rather tough exam that has to be passed in order to progress. Coronavirus has meant that last year and this year the course has been transferred to online interactive sessions.

This dermatology training course is always heavily over-subscribed and very popular with the 'juniors' because of the quality of teaching and the focus we can provide directed at passing the exam.

The course ended the end of July 2021 and we wish all the delegates that attended the very best of luck in their exam later this year.

Dr. Downs & Dr. Bower are looking forward to passing on their dermatology knowledge and offering further CPD, useful advice and guidance for future Dermatologist and medical professional at the next event.

On 6th May 2021, Dr. Anthony Downs, Consultant Dermatologist, provided an on-line (via Teams) national lecture on the use of lasers in dermatology and cosmetic practices.

This was a great opportunity for Dr. Downs to share his in-depth knowledge and experience looking at the growth in the usage of lasers and IPL for medical and cosmetic application. The attendees were dermatology colleagues throughout the UK looking to add to their continual professional development.

In the mid 1990’s cosmetic treatments were de-regulated. This led to a boom in the industry, but meant anyone could buy a laser and treat patients/clients without the need for any training or professional qualifications. Before that time only qualified doctors could see and treat patients.

Less skin laser treatments are now funded by the NHS as they are now deemed cosmetic, even though lasers have very good medical disease use and can improve disfigurements such as birth marks or scars. That also means less exposure to lasers and their applications for NHS consultant and trainee Dermatologists.

Dr. Downs is continues to look forward to passing on his knowledge and offering further useful advice and guidance for doctors at the next event.

On 21 January 2021 Dr. Tony Downs, Consultant Dermatologist was a conference speaker at the national Dermatologists virtual meeting hosted by the Royal Society of Medicine.

Dr. Downs presented on 'Inflammoscopy: no rash or hairy decisions' to a well attended meeting with an audience of over 250 delegates. He presented to fellow consultant colleagues about improving their diagnostic skills enabling them to further their CPD with accreditation.

South West Dermatology Charity Mole Check Event Exeter Slider

Other topics discussed at the event were:

  • Dermoscopy of common benign skin lesions
  • Malignoscopy: when to treat

The The Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) provides learning and support using expert speakers and global thought leaders providing essential medical insight. The RSM is a membership organisation with over 22,000 members in the UK and internationally.   It aims to bringing together doctors and healthcare professionals across specialties, with a vision to be a driving force in advancing health and patient care through education and innovation.

29th European Academy of DermatoVenereology Congress was hosted virtually this year 29th-31st October 2020.

About EADV

Founded in 1987, EADV is the leading community to further the knowledge of health professionals and advocates in the field of dermatology and venereology. It is a non-profit organisation with over 7,000 members, across 113 different countries in the world, providing a valuable service for every type of dermato-venereologist professional.

The EADV is committed to improving the quality of patient care, continuing medical education for all dermato-venereologists in Europe and beyond, and advocacy on behalf of the speciality and patients.

This year's congress was titled: EADV Virtual - New Frontiers in Dermatology and Venereology and provided an exceptional opportunity for colleagues from around the world to explore the latest developments in science and patient care that are at the heart of the academy’s mission. There were over 11,000 attendees from 112 countries.

Dr. Anthony Downs, Consultant Dermatologist presented two clinical studies:

Incorporating a pre-consultation on-line isotretinoin video adds value to acne patient management

Incorporating a pre-consultation on-line isotretinoin video adds value to acne patient management

The provision of a YouTube acne videos to patient's prior to their acne consultation. This helps inform patients to make difficult choices about strong treatments prior choosing that treatment, also in a format teenagers and young adults can more easily relate to.

Walk-in mole/skin check - What are the perceived health values?

Walk-in mole skin check - What are the perceived health values

The health value of a charitable and free walk-in mole check with a specialist for people concerned about skin cancer.

9-13 October 2019

Dr. Downs, Consultant Dermatologist, attended the EADV Congress from 9-13 October 2019 in Madrid.

It was the second largest annual global dermatology education event. A chance to catch up with colleagues from across Europe, learn about emerging therapies and exchange ideas and trends about patient care.

Dr. Downs listened and was able to exchange ideas with a wealth of speakers and engage with sessions covering the most up-to-date research and developments in Dermatology and Venereology. The speakers and audience represented more than 70 countries worldwide.

Highlights were the Controversy Sessions - These covered a range of topics from topical corticosteroids, to biologics in skin disease, drugs in acne, inflammatory diseases, long term antibiotics and many others. Different opinions are new things to learn, and we were all stimulated by the healthy debate that will be sparked.

Dr Anthony Downs presentation at the 10th annual national dermatology registrar training course in Birmingham
Dr. Downs presenting in Birmingham.

For the last 8 yrs Dr. Anthony Downs & Dr. Chris Bower, Consultant Dermatologists have run an annual Dermatology Registrar Revision Course to help new medical students pass their "Exit" exam.

Dr. Bower presenting in Birmingham.

Dr. Tony Downs and Dr. Chris Bower organised and hosted their 10th annual national dermatology registrar training course in Birmingham on Sunday 9th June 2019.

The course is registered with the British Association of Dermatologist and is classed as a course of excellence for attending students.

We help the dermatology consultants of the future get through a key knowledge step in their training. Future UK dermatology consultants are required to pass a theory exam in dermatology during their specialist training in Dermatology.

“We feel privileged to be able to pass on our expertise and experience to doctors that will be our consultant colleagues in the near future”

Dr. Anthony Downs & Dr. Christopher Bower
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